Fast-track drug brings hope to prostate cancer as it could extend life expectancy for patients whose disease has spread
- Chances of living longer could be increased by a third, trials show
- The NHS will start offering the drug to eligible patients in the coming weeks
- Drug already available on the NHS for patients with localized prostate cancer, but will now be offered to those whose cancer has spread
Around 9,000 men with one of the most advanced forms of prostate cancer will be eligible for a new, life-extending drug, thanks to an accelerated deal.
The NHS in England will become the first healthcare provider in Europe to roll out darolutamide in patients whose prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Trials of the drug have shown that the chances of living longer are increased by a third in men who had not been treated before.
The drug works by blocking androgen receptors in cancer cells, which in turn blocks the effect of testosterone that allows cancer cells to survive and multiply.
A 3D stock rendering of cancer cells attacking and growing on a human cell
Darolutamide, also known by its brand name Nubeqa, may help extend the lives of prostate cancer patients
Darolutamide, also known by its brand name Nubeqa, is already available on the NHS for some patients with localized prostate cancer.
This offer is now extended to cover those whose cancer has spread after NHS England reached an early access agreement.
The drug is usually taken as a tablet with food and in combination with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and docetaxel chemotherapy.
The trial, which took place at nearly 300 sites around the world, found that patients given darolutamide were 32.5% less likely to die than those given ADT and docetaxel alone.
The health department said it would begin offering the drug to eligible prostate cancer patients within weeks. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and around 47,000 people are diagnosed with it each year in England.
What is darolutamide?
- Darolutamide (or Nubeqa) is a type of hormone therapy for men whose prostate cancer has stopped responding to other types of hormone therapy, but has not yet spread to other parts of the body.
- Prostate cancer cells generally need the hormone testosterone to grow. Darolutamide works by blocking the effect of testosterone on prostate cancer cells.
- Darolutamide will not cure your prostate cancer, but it can help control it. It has been shown to give some men more time before their cancer spreads to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer). This means it can help delay the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer in these men and may delay the need for additional treatments such as chemotherapy.
Source: Prostate Cancer UK
Nearly 9,000 people have aggressive prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
NHS leader Amanda Pritchard said: “It’s fantastic that patients in England are the first in Europe to receive this treatment for a truly advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer, thanks to the NHS accelerating a new drugs agreement.
Chiara De Biase, director of support and influence at the charity Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘Being told you have advanced prostate cancer can be devastating and we urgently need new treatments to help these men to live longer.
“That’s why it’s fantastic that thousands of men are benefiting from early access to darolutamide alongside traditional hormone therapy and chemotherapy, which could significantly improve their survival.”
NHS National Director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said: ‘We know that prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and it is vital that the NHS continues to diagnose patients with the as soon as possible and expand our arsenal of cutting-edge treatments to increase people’s chances of survival.
“This innovative treatment builds on the NHS’s ambition to improve cancer care and survival rates and will help thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer live better lives, reducing d ‘one-third their chance of dying.’
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